By Ben Love ~
Okay, so God is supposed to be eternal. Right? Granted, none of us can really understand what “eternal” must be like, feel like, or look like. But one thing we do know: to be eternal is to last forever—no beginning, no end. Eternal, then, does not compare with time. Time is the measurement of a finite interval of existence. That is to say, time has a beginning, and time has an end. And in between this beginning and end is the space of time. We call this space/time. And the whole of space/time is personified by what we call the Universe, or, all that exists materially. Thus, God and the Universe are diametrically opposite to each other. One exists (theoretically) outside of time, in the limitless realm of eternity, while the other exists within time.
Now, if the Creationists are correct, then these two diametrical opposites are intrinsically related to each other, because one (the eternal) must have created the other (space/time, i.e., the Universe). The numerous logical problems that this assertion creates have been explored elsewhere in great detail. But I want to focus on something else right now...
Picture, if you will, an eternal God existing somewhere in eternity. Granted, that’s a difficult image to conceive of, because none of us know what this alleged God looks like. But, whenever we hear the word “God,” we all conjure up some sort of image in our individual minds—perhaps not a bearded Charlton Heston in the sky, but something close to that. It’s just what we do. So, picture this eternal God living out his life in the long, limitless breadth of eternity. This God knows about time, because he knows everything, but he has no need of time. Indeed, the eternal has no more need of time than the ocean has need of a measuring cup. And yet, at some point along the immeasurable scale of eternity, this eternal God decides to establish time. To accomplish this feat, this immaterial God creates something foreign to his own being: material. He then encloses the material within a finite partition (which is separated somehow from eternality), and begins to measure the existence of this material. Thus, time is born. And because material occupies that place where once there was no material, space is born as well, since the place where the material is can now be measured against the place where the material is not. Thus, space and time become linked. One measures where the material exists; the other measures the progression of the material’s existence.
This we call our Universe.
Among the many diverse proponents of Creationism, the loudest are of course the Christians. Their understanding is that God wanted to have someone who had the power to reject him but who, by choosing him instead, could experience his perfect love. And so, an elaborate system was put in place, a stage upon which this grand drama could play out. This, the Christians say, is the reason God created the Universe. He needed a finite place for this “material”; a place separated from eternity, where space and time could exist, and where he could establish this material in the form of life. Thus, God created you and me and everyone else. Why? So we could “know” him, of course. The hope was that we would all choose God. But he knew this wouldn’t happen, so the plan evolved into a kind of dualistic system where some would choose God and receive life while others would reject God and receive death.
And this, in a nutshell, is the basic heart of reality as understood by the believing Christian. This is the definitive answer as to why humans are here, why the Universe is here, and what the purpose of everything is. Everything, according to the Christian, exists so that this drama might be played out for as long as God wants it to be played out. And at some point, according to the Christian, God will end this system. The Earth will be destroyed, the collection of material (the Universe) will be destroyed with it, and new material will then be created (Christians call this the “New Heaven and the New Earth”). Upon this new material, those who chose God will live with him for eternity. Those who rejected God will spend that same eternity being tormented someplace where God’s presence cannot exist (though such a place is theoretically impossible if God truly is omnipresent). This place is called Hell.
Why am I recounting all these basic assertions in which the Christian has placed his faith? Because there are some absurdities here which beg to be examined.
The point is this: The “God solution” to the origins of the Universe doesn’t answer anything. For instance, what was God doing with all his eternity before he created the Universe? Since time doesn’t matter in eternity, why did God pick a moment to suddenly want someone to know his love? Why did he pick a moment to suddenly create the Universe? Was he just dissatisfied one day with his reality after eons and eons of existing eternally? Is this why he decided to alter his routine by creating us and the Cosmos in which we find ourselves? Or…had God tried this before? Perhaps this is the second Universe he’s made. Perhaps the first one didn’t work out. Or maybe this is the tenth Universe he’s made. Or maybe he’s done this an infinite amount of times, since he stretches back far enough to account for infinity. Who knows, right? The point is this: The “God solution” to the origins of the Universe doesn’t answer anything. Seriously, it just doesn’t. It might make the Creationist feel good about a big mystery, but all it really does it create even bigger mysteries. Strangely enough, the Creationist is not concerned with these new mysteries. His need to know disappears the moment his “God solution” is invoked for the original mystery. “God did it, that’s all I know,” is the mantra by which the Creationist lives.
My need to know is not so easily vanquished. If I were to believe in God again and be a Creationist, I would have to wonder why an eternal God who has no need of either time or space decided to create space/time. I would have to wonder why a God who has existed for an eternity suddenly decided to alter his reality by creating something where before there was nothing. I would have to wonder why God, who allegedly has no needs, no wants, and no weaknesses, suddenly decided it would be better to not be alone in reality. I would need to know why this God then decided to create lesser life forms to which he could display his love. If God has no needs, his love didn’t need to be experienced by anyone else. And yet this alleged God created the need when he created us—he created a need where once there was no need. Why? What difference did it make? Besides, wouldn’t it be better for someone like God to have fellowship with an equal? Only another Creator could truly understand a Creator, right? Yes, only a deity could fully know and appreciate another deity. Created beings, which by definition are lesser beings, could never really know a deity anyway. This is Logic 101. The Christians, however, assert otherwise. All of reality, according to them, is simply a means by which we created beings can know the Creator and experience his love.
This, to me, seems ridiculously presumptuous. It seems like the banality of existence is too displeasing to the Christian, and thus an intricate coordination of cause and effect, supply and demand, and need upon need had to be concocted to give meaning and reason and purpose to existence because, to them, existence has none on its own.
However, for the sake of argument, let us say that God did create the Universe. Let us say that he did fashion humans in his image. Let us also say that it was God’s intention that we could and would know his love. Imagine this perfect intelligence, this ultimate source of knowledge, this being from whom all reality spills forth—imagine him erecting a system by which belief was the only way his love could be known. Imagine this God’s decision to exclude everything else about what makes a person a person, preferring instead to base an individual’s chance at eternal life solely on what that person chose to believe theologically while he or she was alive. Now, imagine that this God would tailor reality to make it as hard as possible for a person to believe. What would you think about this God’s intentions, to say nothing of his methods?
“He doesn’t make it hard for people to believe,” the Christian might reply.
Doesn’t he? Consider the system your God has established. First of all, the “belief” in question doesn’t just involve whether or not you accept the existence of this God. No, you must accept, by faith, a miracle that ostensibly took place two thousand years ago. You must accept that the Jesus character spoken of in the Bible was indeed the one and only Son of God. You must believe that this Jesus died for the sins of humanity. And you must believe that this Jesus rose from the dead after three days. In spite of these mandates, your God has not provided sufficient reasons for you to believe all of these things. Instead, he asks you to go out on a limb. He asks you to accept, without evidence, an event that cannot be verified, even though each and every other single piece of quantifiable evidence at your disposal literally begs you to disbelieve. Moreover, the only reason you even know that this may have happened is that God has allegedly provided a written account of it. But this written account seems like a shabby means to induce belief. The writers disagree. There is evidence of tampering. The account is vague in the places where it needs to be precise. And there is nothing outside of this written account to corroborate it. But the difficulties are only beginning to mount at this point. After all, those who do believe in these things have created a worldwide community that does little to inspire. This worldwide community claims to be different, to have been set apart, and yet absolutely nothing about them suggests even remotely that they have any access to anything life-changing or supernatural. And then there are these promises that God has allegedly given to us, again to be found in this written account. Promises that prayer will be answered. That strength will come to those who possess faith. That all things can be accomplished through believe in Jesus. And yet the world shows absolutely no signs that any of this is even close to being true. And finally, there is the invisible nature of this God. He doesn’t show up. He doesn’t make himself known. He doesn’t answer when a question is asked. And he doesn’t save those who cry out for rescue.
Yet still you say that your God hasn’t made it difficult to believe? On the contrary, he has made damn near impossible to believe.And so I implore my readers once and for all to cast aside faith. Cast aside belief. Cast aside superstition. Cast aside the fear of hell. Cast aside this ridiculous God. You live in a Universe that is wonderful on its own. You live a Universe that has more than enough mystery to go around. You live in a world that has meaning simply by virtue of being your world; you don’t need the “God solution.” Supernaturalism has nothing to offer you, because it has nothing you can inspect. Space and time and the matter found therein (the definition of naturalism) are all of you have to inspect, and they are all you need. There is no eternity. There is no forever. There is only now. Only knowledge can set you free, because the more you know, the less you need. Whether or not you will live later is irrelevant. You are alive now. Leave this God behind, because he isn’t real anyway. He couldn’t be. And even if he were, it wouldn’t matter. You could no more know him than an amoeba could know you. Either way, atheism still floats to the surface as the best stance. Why? Because it doesn’t ask you to do that which you are incapable of doing.